Hegel on Cosmopolitanism, International Relations, and the Challenges of Globalization

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In this essay, I attempt to challenge the prevailing views and misconceptions concerning Hegel’s philosophy of international relations, and I aim to present a more complete (cosmopolitan and internationalist) account of Hegel’s and Hegelian thought which, I contend, is much more supportive of conceptions of global justice, human rights promotion, and peaceful international relations. I argue that Hegel’s “realism” about interstate relations is compatible with global cooperation and commonality, and that his well-known acknowledgement of war is compatible with a broader account of international comity. I argue also that he allows for legal arrangements that transcend the bounded confines of territorial state sovereignty, and that his situated conception of norms is compatible with a universal and even cosmopolitan conception of human rights as well as obligations. While Hegel may oppose cosmopolitan political notions of a world government as being conceptually problematic and empirically undesirable, he nonetheless recognizes the need for a more rationalized global order that promotes the freedom of individuals, the mutual recognition of diverse national states and cultures, and a global commitment to the ideas of right and justice. In the end, as I hope to show, Hegel emerges as a subtle international ethicist and global thinker very much aware of the dialectical and historical interplay of (a) global unity as sustained throughout local and regional differences, (b) abstract right and concrete culture, (c) Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, and (d) the realpolitische other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStudies in Global Justice
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages27
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameStudies in Global Justice
ISSN (Print)1871-0409
ISSN (Electronic)1871-1456

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law
  • Philosophy


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